Archive for March, 2014

Or is that star-rust ?

the old sportstar

the old sportstar

Well, there’s not much left of the original Malvern Sportstar now, only the frame, the unique bottom bracket ( with new square taper axle ) and the original Cherry brake callipers.

the front end

the front end

And yet – from the ashes – a new Sportstar-cruiser is taking shape.

Semi-upright and more comfortable than a road bike, but not too heavy, and geared down a little.

I’m spending a bit of time on this one because at around 58cm frame size it’s an ideal fit for me as a cruiser-bike.

frame & fork

frame & fork

And it was solid and straight too, despite the rust.

Firstly the frame was re-painted as there was only the cheap looking head decal remaining, and that wasn’t worth keeping. It now sports a Rustoleum Cobalt Blue paint job, with some hand painted stars – echoes of the old star decal.

stack 'em up

stack ’em up

I fitted a new chromed fork, nothing fancy, it’s the same type that I used on Grandfather’s Speedwell. The fork needed hacksaw shortening, but I also added some extra spacers to the VP head-set, to add a little height as compensation for the short rise of the 100mm Genetic stem used.

luv those mo's !

luv those mo’s !

Bars are Tange Moustache with Dia-compe DC188 reverse levers, just as fitted to the pink mixte, because I was so pleased with their laid back comfort on that bike. Instead of bar tape though, I’ve used the matching Dia-compe grips. These have simple cable guides built in to make it easy.

Spur of the moment, I will use the clip-on Suntour 888 shifters shown in the previous post, as I like their looks, and there are no braze-ons on this frame for levers.

ok, i know it's overkill !

ok ok, i know it’s overkill ! – but so smoooth

I bought some new budget 27″ Q.R. alloy wheels online, but I don’t like the nasty Joytech hubs, especially the front one. In sheer overkill fashion, I have re-laced the front rim onto a much better hub, using the same spokes. I’ll keep the rear hub –  but – although it has a cluster thread, it’s too wide at 130mm over the locknuts. I’ll detail the width reduction  to around 126mm in a future post…

ugh - what have i done  ? - but it'll do for now...

ugh – what have i done ? – but it’ll do for now…

It’s easier to fit the gear and brake setups before the wheels and chainwheel go on, so I’ve done that too.

d-c cable clamps - in blue !

d-c cable clamps – in blue !

getting there...

getting there…

Next jobs will be sorting the rear wheel and fitting the drive train.


relax… and see ya


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No, I don’t mean actual jewellery sorry, it’s just that I think the shifters on some older ten-speed bikes remind me somehow of womens’ pendant earrings. The cast alloy ones I mean, like the Suntour 888 (clip-on down-tube) or the classy Shimano (stem shifters) pictured here :

or perhaps insect wings ...

or perhaps resting  insect wings …

fine details - tiny number eights on the suntour, dots on the shimano

fine details for grip – tiny number eights on the suntour, dots on the shimano

I like using stem shifters and, although they are more associated with heavy old ‘sports’ bikes or mixtes, I often prefer them over down-tube shifters because they are easier to see and to access from a semi upright position.

Some may say they add extra cable outers, curves and complexity, but hey – isn’t that exactly what today’s ‘brifter’ style road bike levers do ?

the 'long yiu' shifters from the pink mixte

the ‘long yih’ shifters from the pink mixte

As far as servicing and refurbishing these shifters goes, they are quite simple. If the steel clamps are in very rusty condition – as usual – I will soak them in rust converter till the loose chrome flakes off, then buff up what’s left. Carefully clear coating the bare steel may help prevent some rust returning.

The alloy levers will respond to fine steel wool, soft brass wire brushes and metal polish. Generally the nylon friction bushes last well in all but the most neglected examples. They only need a wash in soapy water.

When reassembling, I don’t use oil or grease as it might affect the friction properties, but I use a bit of the waxy ‘stick’ dry lube (as used on car door latches).

Friction shifters are in constant tension against the derailleur springs (when in operation) and some friction must be present to prevent them from self-changing back to the default gears ( the smallest ring or cog ). Adjustment on the shifter screws is critical, between too-tight to turn the lever and too-loose to hold the derailleur fast.

It’s therefore a good idea to leave your gears in the smallest ring and cog when you have finished riding for the day. Less stress !

not as nice - falcon, shimano, suntour in the usual neglected condition

not as nice – falcon, shimano, suntour in the usual neglected condition

Faded plastic levers will respond quite well to Armour-all, but the later plastic coated Shimano SIS levers are chunky looking and lack grace. These generally have friction front levers along with indexed rear levers:

ugly plastic shimano sis

ugly plastic shimano sis

If you aren’t familiar with the reassembly just do one side at a time so you can cross reference the pieces.

unsure ? - then do one side at a time

unsure ? – then do one side at a time

And having restored the levers, shout them some shiny new cables too !


Here’s a quick fix for mis-aligned side pull calliper brake pads – instead of trying to bend the alloy arms, I fitted a longer pad bolt and put some thin convex / concave washer pairs from a set of used V-brake pads on each side of the arms.

keep these washers if your v-brake pads are replaced.

keep these washers if your v-brake pads are replaced.

This allows enough movement to set the ‘toe in’ correctly and restore some dignity to Cecil’s front wheel brake judder.

Just be careful to fit a big enough flat washer between the  the bolt head and curved washers to cover them properly.

Happy Re-cycling !

and don't forget the umbrella !

and don’t forget the umbrella !

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